About the Trombone

This interesting musical instrument is part of the brass family of the orchestra, and is quite an unusual choice of instrument to take up, but it is very rewarding. The sound of the trombone is produced in the same way as all of the other instruments in the brass family: the trombonist blows air into the instrument through vibrating lips, which makes the air inside the trombone vibrate in turn. One of the signature features of a trombone is the telescopic slide. The trombonist changes the tube’ s length whilst playing to create a different pitch. The trombone’s
name literally translates as “large trumpet”, from Italian. Tromba is trumpet, and -one is large.

Types of Trombone

Although the trombone comes in all sizes ranging from the piccolo to contrabass, the two most common types of trombone are the bass and the tenor. A valve trombone has three button-type valves, like the trumpet. A lot of people get confused between trumpets and trombones. Both instruments have mainly cylindrical bores, but the music which is
written to be played on the trombone is written in concert pitch. Whereas the trumpet is pitched at B♭, the trombone is a whole octave lower at B♭, and the tuba an octave lower than that.

Attributes of the trombone

What makes a trombone easily distinguishable from other instruments in the wind family is its ability to produce a clear glissando without disrupting the flow of air into the instrument. The trick whilst playing is not to change the direction of the slide. If the player does this, the sound cracks. And the largest interval in a glissando which can be achieved on the trombone is a tritone.

Trombone Mutes

A common addition to the trombone which changes the timbre of the instrument is the mute, which is placed into the bell and fixed in place with cork grips. Alternatively, the mute can be held in place by the trombonist and removed whilst playing. This creates the ‘wah-wah’ effect. There are a number of varieties of mute, including the straight
mute, the harmon muter, the cup mute and the pixie mute, all of which produce a different sound.

Trombone in Music

If you’re Trombones are still used in music today, particularly in jazz. Very few jazz tracks are without the trombone. It is also used in ska and salsa music, which originate from the Caribbean. But the sound of the trombone is so distinctive that it has crossed the genres, and has appeared in R&B, rock music, and is sampled a lot in 80’s synth pop. In a more traditional sense, the instrument often appears in brass bands, marching bands, military bands, and full symphony orchestras. It’s also used in brass trios or quartets of chamber music.

Buying a trombone

If you are looking to start playing the trombone, it’s well worth investing in lessons. It’s not the type of instrument you can teach yourself. Cheaper models can be purchased for as little as one-hundred and fifty pounds. If you are an advanced player, or looking to purchase a top-of-the-range model, you’ll be paying in excess of three-thousand pounds.